New DJ gadgets offer a different spin

Kevin Pereira of G4's "Attack of the Show"


Kai Ryssdal: Never fear, strange robots have not taken over this broadcast. It is just our friend Kevin Pereira from G4 Television here with the latest gizmos. I'm told this has something to do with music, Kevin, but you're not going to make me sing are you?

Pereira: No, no, unless you want to? We could auto tune you, we could get you in the ballpark of Britney Spears.

Ryssdal: I'm not doing that. What have we here? Describe these things for me.

Pereira: Right, I have a couple of different devices, Kai, that I think can help anybody -- the aspiring musician, the home professional, the college student who just wants a way to wow his buddies. Doesn't matter. Three different devices, of all different price points, that can help you make sweet, sweet auditory love to somebody's ears.

Ryssdal: Just what we need from you. All right, so this yellow thing. It's about the size of, what, two packs of cards put together?

Pereira: Just about. This the Korg Kaossilator. And this is a dynamic-phase synthesizer, which basically means it's a battery-powered portable synthesizing device. So it can play piano notes, you can have do little, pretty little synth noises.

Ryssdal: On a little touch pad there.

PEREIRA: It's all touch pad based, and you can actually hit the scale button so you can lock yourself in into a scale that sounds nice, so you can just play only the notes that you want to go along with the track that you're playing.

Ryssdal: The latest development in the digitization of music.

PEREIRA: Yes, this is a Korg recognized. They have larger devices like this chaos pad here, which we'll get into, that cost hundreds and hundreds of dollars and have all these effects. And they realize that musicians now, they want to be able to make music anywhere. So if you have a laptop and a little Kaossilator -- which is a travel combo that I have, much to the TSA's chagrin. But this tiny little touch pad portable device, you can take it on the road, plug into a laptop, plug into a tape recorder, and make a full song.

Ryssdal: All right, I'm sure you're a very talented guy, but what about real musicians making music with these kinds of things?

PEREIRA: Actually exists. People do it all the time. I've interviewed on "Attack of the Show" everybody from Crystal Method to Daft Punk. Not just electronic bands, rock bands as well that say they take these sort of to sort of experiment with ideas while they are on the road. Because this device, yes, it has synths but it also has bases, it also has drums, it also has voices programmed into it. So you're looking at about $100 powered by four AA batteries where you can plug it into the wall and tada you're making music.

Ryssdal: Am I getting jiggy with it, is that what this is?

PEREIRA: You were slapping some funk on it, as they say.

Ryssdal: So could you record your voice tracks into a computer and then get it onto this thing and manipulate it somehow?

PEREIRA: This device, this hand-held device, isn't so much made for sampling, but if you want to take it to the next level -- which is using your own tunes, your own samples, your own music -- then you have step it up, and go to the big brother of this, which is the Kaoss Pad.

Ryssdal: Which is right here. Which is much more intimidating looking I have to tell you.

PEREIRA: This thing looks like an angry robot. A thousand blinking lights, it's got eight different pads that you can macro to different functions. This guy here retails from anywhere from $200 to $350.

Ryssdal: Yeah, you know my temptation now is to say,"oh, c'mon how much is anybody really going to buy one of these things and use it," except I said the same thing two-and-half years ago when you were in here with Guitar Hero and Rock Band. And look it how wrong I was.

PEREIRA: Guitar Hero and Rock Band can make anybody feel like a musician. These devices, you do have to have some sort of musical inclination to really get anything out of them. But let's say $300, that's too steep of a price point to find out if it's something that you're interested in or not. I have $1.99 application for the iPhone or the iPod Touch called Bebot. And...[sound with application]

Ryssdal: Get out. Seriously? Now is the time to ask is there anything that phone can't do?

PEREIRA: No, if there isn't an app for it, there will be, is sort of the adage.

Ryssdal: All right, we're going to go out with a song that you made I guess on all these gizmos in like 10 minutes this morning.

PEREIRA: It's why I was exactly 10 minutes late today. Sorry about that. But yes, you can hear all these devices being put to use in a matter of minutes.

Ryssdal: Kevin Pereira G4 Television, "Attack of the Show." Kevin, thanks a bunch.

PEREIRA: Thanks Kai.

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Cue in the music from The Twilight Zone. A few days before your broadcast, I taught part of my Duquesne University music technology class in Electronic Performance Techniques reviewing, you guessed it, in the same exact order, the options for interactive performance available in the Kaossilator, the Kaoss Pad, and Bebot, all of which I use on a regular basis. I'm linking your story to my course website!

Great story. I'm teaching a class called "How to Survive in the Music Industry" a the local community college and we discuss trends all the time. I'll be playing this segment in my next class.

I am very interested in the increasingly affordable musical offerings of the digital revolution, and would consider the products in this story for my kids.

However, I came to marketplace.org this morning to express my dismay at what seems to be an explosion of "gadget guys" on public radio programs. Shouldn't such product reviews at least be confined to the consumer-oriented Marketplace Money?

I believe there is enough happening in the economy and business to fill Marketplace's daily 30 minute slot. I would particularly like to suggest no one be invited on who says "price point" instead of price.

But perhaps I'm just becoming a cranky old man, as I can see this is the "most listened too" story on your website this morning!

Thank you, thank you, thank you! I am not a musician or even an aspiring one ... just been wanting to play with a synth/MIDI toy and this is it.

Kai Ryssdal, I really enjoy your show, especially the fun and thorough product reviews!

Thank you Kai & Marketplace! I'm writing from my iPhone, and I have to say I just downloaded the Bbot app, and this has to be one of the best apps I have ever purchased. I may not be the most musically inclined, but I know enough, and this app is hours of enjoyment! Keep up
the great work @ marketplace, I listen daily to the morning report and Marketplace, no better place to keep informed.

Aloha Kai and Kevin - great segment! I just downloaded the Bebot app and know I will have HOURS of fun with this. Keep those recommendations coming.

Thank you Kai and Kevin. Without too much wording, I've been fighting the battle of focusing more on my Network and Security career and having time for my music. This tool will help without question.

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